December 11, 2012

Marathon #1 in the Books!

Well, I've now completed my first marathon!  It wasn't easy.  Despite setbacks that included a foot injury and complete change of footwear two months prior to the race, painful IT Band issue a month before the race, and the general challenges that come with doing your first marathon and running a distance you've never done before, I've had really good training leading up to this to the race.  I felt prepared, in good spirits, and relatively confident.  My goals were simple.  Since this was to be my first and I had nothing else to compare it to, I was just going to go out, do my best, and finish.  I had a detailed race plan and overall time goal in mind, but if the time goal didn't happen I wasn't going to be too disappointed.  After all, I didn't really know what to expect and was going for the accomplishment more than anything.

Being a December marathon, we were expecting relatively cool/cold weather.  Or at least, as much as you can expect that in Texas.  I had been hearing the stories of last year's race that included near freezing temperatures and and a constant misting precipitation the entire race.  We had experienced pretty consistently cool temperatures leading up to the race for the about the last two months or so.  I felt that I was adequately acclimated to the cool weather now and that I was really going to enjoy racing in these cool temperatures.  However, getting to the start line on race morning it felt like an Austin summer morning.  Temperature was in the low 70's and it was nearly 100% humidity.  Less than ideal conditions.  And, while I was pretty used to running in those types of conditions and had trained in them pretty consistently, it had been over two months since I had experienced anything like this.  My body wasn't used to it and since this was the first day in a long time we'd had conditions like this, I knew this was going to be tough day.  It was going to be tough already since it was my first marathon and I was still dealing with the IT Band issue.

Regardless, I still remembered what a lot of my running partners had told me: take it all in and enjoy it!  I was energized by the crowd in the starting corral.  Here I was, after all that I'd been through and where I was just seven months ago, I was now on the starting line about to run in my first marathon.  I'll admit, I was little emotional.  I thought to myself: "I may do more of these, but I'll never experience my first one again. Remember it.  Soak it in.  Enjoy it!"  Whatever was about to happen, I was going to handle it and enjoy the experience.

The gun went off, my excitement and emotions were off the chart, and the race had begun.  I was in it now.  I knew from experience that I often started out too fast and I needed to slow down.  Especially with the IT Band issue.  My physical therapist had given me a strategy to run the first minute of every mile to give the IT Band a break and allow me to recover.  Having implored this strategy in training I discovered that I could maintain my average goal pace doing this so I had this strategy ready if I needed it.  Of course, I had it in my head that I needed to try to run the whole thing and anything less would be a disappointing.  At the same time, I didn't lose sight of the fact that finishing is the ultimate goal regardless of how I got there.

The first 3 - 4 miles I used the crowd to slow me down.  I didn't go out of my way to try and run around people.  It felt like I was painfully slow but looking at my watch I discovered I was just slightly ahead of the pace my plan had me running.  I relaxed and fed off the energy from the crowd of spectators.  By mile 5, the IT Band had made its presence and situation known and I had begun my run/walk strategy.  As we crossed the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge around my 6 or 7, which is featured in the race's logo, I met up with my running partner Kelly.  Kelly was experienced at marathons and had really helped me during my training.  There was a point during training where I couldn't get past 16 miles.  It seemed like no matter what I did, everything fell apart once I went beyond that.  One day, Kelly said "You're going to stick with me.  I'm not going to leave you and you're going to do it."  And I did.  That was just the breakthrough I needed and really helped my confidence.  Kelly was doing good and was feeling great.  I ran with her a bit until I needed to walk again as per my plan.  I knew if I pushed through and got off plan, I would pay for it later. And things were already starting to feel hard so I swallowed my pride, said goodbye and good luck to Kelly, and began to walk for a minute as my watch alarm went off.

By this point, I was completely soaked with sweat. I could feel the humidity around me and it made the air feel thick and soupy.  By mile 10, things did not feel good.  I began to worry. If I felt like this at mile 10, how was I going feel at mile 20?  Was I even going to make it mile 20?  My plan was to just keep moving and deal with whatever happens.  Each progressive mile felt a little worse.  It felt a little warmer, a little more humid, and a little harder with each passing mile.  I kept going.  By mile 13, the halfway point, I knew the rest of the race was going to be a struggle.  I began to doubt myself and get frustrated.  Why was this so hard?  I had trained and have felt much better in many of my training runs. Why was I struggling to much now?

By the time I made it to White Rock Lake, around mile 16, I was in the midst of a deep personal battle.  This was hard.  It sucked.  I felt like I was hitting the wall.  But it was still really early for that.  What was it going to be like when I get to the point where I hit the actually wall that most hit later in the race?  The negative self-talk was getting louder.  The crowds and become almost non-existent around this back part of the lake.  As I made it to mile 18 and turned off of the lake path and onto the street, I was in a really dark place.  I wasn't sure if I was going to finish.  I had been hearing the very loud music from the mile 20 rest stop from across the lake for about the last half hour.  If I could just make it to that...  About that time, I saw my parents. They had driven in and told me they were going to be somewhere on the course and then and that finish.  I was so glad to see familiar faces.  They were cheering and very encouraging.  It was just the pick-me-up I needed.  I ran a little more determined and less defeated.  Not far from my parents, I caught up to Kelly again.  Unfortunately, she was not doing well and had some serious pain in her foot.  That didn't stop her from being very supportive and encouraging to me.  I said my thank yous and goodbyes and that I was looking forward to seeing them at the finish.  I was exhausted, limping and in a great deal of pain, but I was going to make it.  No matter how hard it was going to be, I was going to make it.

I made it through the mile 20 rest stop and paused briefly to regroup and refuel.  Just beyond this are the only hills of the Dallas course.  Two short but steep hills right together.  They call them the Dolly Parton hills and there are a group of guys who are dressed (intentionally very poorly) like Dolly there to cheer you on.  The negative self-talk began to fade and I started to enjoy the race once again.  I was off my goal pace but I was in the home stretch.  The next few miles were a little frustrating as they wound through some Dallas neighborhoods.  I could see downtown (where the finish was) and would be filled with hope as we were heading toward it.  Then the course would change we'd be heading away from downtown.  That continue until about mile 24 or so.  Then it was just straight into downtown.  It was the hardest 2 miles I've ever run.

I just kept pushing and was energized as I got into the big crowd of spectators that lined the finished. I saw my parents again. This was it.  I had made it.  Triumphantly, with hands in the air, I pushed through and crossed the finish line.  They put a medal around my neck as I stopped to catch my breath, enjoy the moment and take pride in the push that I just made to the finish.  Then, it hit me.  The realization of what had just happened began to become clear and the emotions started to grow.  I had finished my first marathon.  4:57.  From everything I'd been through and as tough as it was, I had set a challenging goal, one that was always "wouldn't it be cool if..." type of goal, and I had completed it.  It was real and I felt absolutely amazing.  As hard as everything was, I wouldn't have it any other way.

I met up with Kelly at the finish and eventually my parents.  I didn't want the moment to end.  I felt like I could conquer the world.  Despite all the challenges and setbacks, I was now a marathon finisher!  I was really going to enjoy that beer and Tex-Mex meal.  Of course, about this time a front was blowing in and the temperature would drop about 20 degrees over the next 3 hours.  Figures.

I later found out that most everyone had bad days.  One of the guys in my group who was planning to qualify for Boston had cramps and hip problems.  Many people dropped out.  A lot of people had races that were far from their goals. I took comfort in the fact that it wasn't just me and it wasn't any lack of effort, training, or preparation on my part.  It was just a hard day, but it was my day.  I did it and nothing could take that away.  Even one of the more elite runners who trained at Rogue had a similar experience.  His race report really resonated with me and I especially liked his lessons learned.  Couldn't have said it better myself.

Regardless, I did what I set out to do.  I had gone from 40 pounds heavier, out of shape, completely sedentary and unhealthy earlier in the year, to marathon finisher.

Picture from my parents' perspective.  I'm both happy to see them and struggling mightily.


Making my way to the finish

Crossing the finish.  I was about 7 minutes behind the gun time.
Me and Kelly

December 8, 2012

Realizing Goals

It’s been nine months since the first juice fast (back story here).  It’s been a very wonderful and interesting journey.  I’ve come along way since my first post when I committed myself to this healthful endeavor.  Since that first juice fast that started it all, I’ve done two other juice fasts, did a bike two-day bike ride from Houston to Austin, competed in my first triathlon, completed the Tough Mudder, and have truly transformed my life.  I just had a birthday and I feel like I have a lot of my life ahead of me now.
When I first committed to doing a juice fast, I also committed to lead a healthier, more active lifestyle.  The goals I had set for myself were to complete a 10 day juice fast and, by the end of the year, run my first marathon.  They were lofty goals.  At the time, I was very unhealthy and very out of shape.  Of course I completed the juice fast.  This weekend, I will line up at the starting line of the Dallas Marathon.
I’m very thankful to be here.  It’s been a long, hard training.  I’ve dealt with numerous injuries.  I’ve had a number of set backs.  It has definitely not been easy.  Yet, here I am about to accomplish another big goal.  It’s an amazing feeling.
I’ve been training with a group and it has been a wonderful experience.  I feel very fortunate having been introduced to the running culture and meeting like minded people.  I’ve learned a lot from them.  I was intimidated at first.  I was relatively new to running.  I had completed a half marathon about 5 years ago, but hadn’t really run much since.  I was far from anything that could be considered “fast”.  And I didn’t have a whole lot of confidence in my ability to run long distances.
In the beginning, I was frustrated.  I was one of the slower people in the group.  I struggled on my training runs.  I wasn’t able to keep up with many of those in the group.  Embarrassed and discouraged, I would push myself to go faster and farther.  I ran harder. I did not run smarter.  It seemed as if the harder I tried the worse it got and the harder I was on myself.  Then I learned a key concept in running and training for these types of events.
In running, there is always someone faster, someone who can run farther, someone fitter than you.  This doesn’t matter.  What I learned from my team members was that it was all about me; how I ran my race.  They didn’t care if I was slower or faster than anyone else anymore than they cared if they were faster or slower than anyone else.  It’s all about the PR, the “Personal Record”.  This is your personal best.  I learned that the running culture was not competitive as I thought it would be.  At least, not in the way I thought. Everyone is competing with themselves.  The bar by which we are measured is, in fact, how we measure ourselves.  Was I able to set a new PR?  My team wasn’t encouraging me to run faster than anyone else nor did they care how long I could go.  Was I improving myself?  Was I “better” as defined by what that meant to me?  Every step of the way, the other members of the group were encouraging to me and to everyone else. From the people who I only saw headed the other way because they had already turned around, to the people who came up behind me everyone encouraged each other.  We each wanted the other achieve their goals, whatever they may be.  For this reason, I encourage everyone to train for some sort of running event and train with a group.  In addition to being ready to run my first marathon, the experience has been more beneficial to me than I could have imagined.
This is a fitting lesson and can be extrapolated for my life.  What I’ve accomplished, what I’ve been through, isn’t remarkable.  There are far more interesting stories than mine.  People who have fasted for longer, have lost more weight, overcome greater odds, made more of a transformation.  Which is great.  That’s their PR.  This is my story and it means a great deal to me.  I’m happy to be here.  Happy to be fit and healthy and juicing!  I am beyond excited about finally being able to run my first marathon.  I’ve been having a lot of emotions and they are getting stronger as the event nears.  I’ve come through so much to get here that nothing could deter me.  I am about to run my first marathon.  And with it being my first, no matter what my time is I’m going to set a PR!
Bryan has been training with coach Allison Macsas’ Winter Marathon group and will take on his first 26.2 mile race in Dallas Sunday this Sunday!

November 29, 2012

My experience as one of the Fastest Men Alive

This is my experience as one of the fastest men alive.  I'm not an Olympic sprinter, but I am very active.  I'm not a race car driver, but I am very driven.  I don't really do anything all that fast, but I do a lot of things very differently now.  I did a 14 day juice fast.  That means that for 14 days, I didn't eat anything. I only drank fresh fruit and vegetable juice that I made and it has completely changed my life.  I didn't do this alone.  I did it with a group of friends and we call ourselves, Fastest Men Alive.

We were inspired by the film "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead", a documentary released about a year ago that you may have seen it or heard of it.  It's going viral and exploding in popularity
about an Australian who is about 320 pounds overweight.  He was also sick for 9 years with an auto-immune disease that causes him to have a rash whenever he touches anything.  His health is deteriorating and so, he decides to go on 60 day juice fast.  He does nothing but drink fresh fruit and vegetable juice for 60 days.  I won't spoil it by telling you the rest.  You should definitely watch this amazing film.  It was very moving and inspiring, inspired all of us.

We all had different reasons all had different reasons for doing our own juice fast, weight loss, detoxification, long term health benefits, complete system reboot, adoption of a more healthful lifestyle, address or even potentially cure some sickness and ailments.  It all came down to the fact that we all wanted to live better, more healthy, improve the quality of our lives, and extend our life.  My specific reasons for doing this was that I had suffered from severe acid reflux for over 15 years.  I tried every over the counter medication, including the ones for "severe" cases; those experiencing symptoms 2-3 times a week.  If that's "severe" than what did I have suffering from it 2-3 times a day?  I hadn't seen a doctor about it and had many reasons for not.  However, it had gotten to that point.  I was like the frog boiling in water.  Over the years, I had "learned to live with it".  My quality of life had drastically deteriorated and I was not honest with myself.  I'll spare you the details of just how bad it and how miserable I was.  In short, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.  In addition to this, I was overweight, unhealthy, inactive, and unhappy.

I was talking to a friend about this and telling him that I had to do something.  At his suggestion, I was going to do a 10 day fast.  In addition to helping your body heal itself, you could lose weight, reset and boost your system, and jumpstart you no a healthy lifestyle.  The idea is that you drink only fresh fruit and vegetable juice that you make yourself, not store bought or processed juice.  It's going to detoxify your body, completely flush out your system, and essentially be a full system reboot.

One of us floated the idea that we should keep a blog to hold ourselves publicly accountable.  That then morphed into a web site, and the formation of our group, the Fastest Men Alive.  While doing research before we started, we couldn't find anyone documenting their experiences.  We found numerous people recording progress and outcomes.  I wanted to know what the experience was like.  What were people feeling?  What were they experiencing, thinking, etc.?  This is what we resolved to do - good or bad, pretty or not, we were going to document everything.  Unfiltered and authentic, our experiences would be out there for everyone to see.  

This is exactly what we did.  Everyone was very transparent and authentic in documenting and sharing their experiences.  Many of us, myself included, admitted things we hadn't admitted before - especially to ourselves.  It wasn't easy.  It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows, and all of our blog posts reflected that.  Our goal was to go 10 days.  Everyone made it.  I and another guy extended our fast to 14 days.  Each of us had an overall positive experience and saw significant results: weight loss, feeling better overall, improved mood, and everyone experienced a paradigm shift to a healthy lifestyle in some form or another.  As for my specific results, my pallet has definitely changed. Where before I didn't like a lot of vegetables, now that’s mostly what I crave.  My diet has consisted mainly of whole vegetables, fruits, grains, and nuts.  I'm about 90-95% vegetarian. For me, it’s all about how I feel. That’s what I gage what I eat and if I’m going in the right direction.  I am sleeping great. I sleep through the night, have lots of dreams, and wake up refreshed and energized. This was something that was quite foreign to me before. 
My acid reflux is completely gone. Not one single, symptom since I started the juice fast. My body had healed itself.  I now have a very strong resolve that I will never go back to the lifestyle ever again.  I'll never feel like that again!

By the end of the 14 days fast, I had lost 11 lbs and was down to 25% body fat.  I continued to lose after I came off the fast as well.   I'm now down to  about 5 lbs over my ideal and 21% body fat.  I've lost 25 pounds since I started the fast.  I've lost nearly 40 since the beginning of the year.  More than just the weight loss, I feel incredible.  I have a new lifestyle, a new outlook, really a new life.  I also committed myself to becoming more active.  During the fast I was going to spin classes and trained for the MS 150, a bike ride from Houston to Austin.  I continued to work hard, be active, and push myself.  I continued training and competed in my first triathlon.  I completed a Tough Mudder, a 12 mile military style obstacle course.  In two weeks, I will run my first marathon.  I'm setting my sights on loftier goals.

As for our group, we continue to grow.  We've inspired others to do a 10 day fast.  We're continually promoting our healthy lifestyle and encourage others to do the same.  We got to meet and interview Joe Cross, the maker of "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead".  Our group and story are featured on their web site.  We continue to live our newfound lives and share our experiences.  We've each made a lot of changes.    Leo Tolstoy said "True life is lived when tiny changes occur."  I am living.  And that's my experience as one of the Fastest Men Alive.

March 28, 2012

MS 150 - Why I Ride

This April, I will be riding in this year’s BP MS 150.  It’s a two day bicycle ride from Houston to Austin.  Despite the name, it’s actually a 180 mile ride.  I’ve ridden a number of times.  I’ve also ridden some of the other MS 150 rides in Texas.  There was the ride from San Antonio to Corpus Christi that was pretty much entirely into a headwind the entire way to the coast.  Then there was the Frisco to Fort Worth ride that included a lap around the track at Texas Motor Speedway.

The Houston to Austin is the biggest of the rides, with 13,000 riders, and something I look forward to every year.  I look forward to it for the personal challenge as well as doing my part to help the National MS Society fund research, advocate for change, and help people with MS and their families lead powerful lives. I believe in the work they do and like being an active part of it.

Multiple sclerosis is a progressive neurological disease that affects people in many different ways. It could be paralysis one day, loss of vision the next or impaired memory the day after that.  There is no cure.  Many people in this country is newly diagnosed with MS every single day.  The research that has been funded through the National MS Society has led to recent breakthroughs in treating the symptoms.  It’s so fulfilling to see results from the fundraising efforts.

The experience is such an empowering one.  The ride itself is fulfilling.  I did my first century on day one of my first MS 150.  The training, preparation, and accomplishment of crossing the finish line after two days and 180 miles is extremely rewarding.  More than all of that, I am honored and humbled to be part of something bigger.  I am humbled to see 13,000 riders with orange bandannas that represent someone with MS that the rider is honoring.  I am humbled by the number of people who cheer all of the riders on.  I am humbled by the people living with MS, thanking us at the breakpoints.  I am humbled every time I see a rider wearing a jersey that reads “I have MS, that’s why I ride!”

The ride is fun, rewarding and extremely fulfilling.  It’s also hard, painful, and tiring.  It’s a reminder of what people who live with MS experience every day.  And that is why I ride.  This year I’ve organized a team at my company, Bazaarvoice. where generosity is one of our core values.  I can use your support, both moral and financial, in this endeavor.  You can send me some words of encouragement or sponsor me here.  

March 6, 2012

What Better Time Than Now? - My Healthful Endeavor

Pre-Juice Fast
As Zack de la Rocha passionately whispered: “It has to start somewhere.  It has to start sometime.  What better place than here?  What better time than now?”  Recently, I've decided to embark on an endeavor and, with some friends, have created Fastest Men Alive.  I’ve decided to make a change, starting with a juice fast.  I’ve been thinking about that line a lot lately.  Especially as my inner voice is suggesting that perhaps we should wait and try starting this maybe sometime later, when we’re good and ready.  Instead, I've started it this week.

Why am I doing this?  A number of reasons.  Essentially I’m in my mid/late 30s and sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I’ve been suffering from acid reflux for over 15 years.  The last couple of years it’s gotten significantly worse.  Insufferable.  It’s really affecting my quality of life.  After trying every OTC medication that I knew of, I had begun  researching some natural treatments.  In that process, I asked Jeremy for his thoughts.  It was then that he suggested that I try doing a juice fast.  Eric followed by sharing his experiences of juicing and the idea was born.  I was going to give it a try in an effort to reset my system and change some habits.

I’ve been a chiropractic patient of Dr. Daniel Gonzalez for a  while and love his philosophy of “Move well, eat well, think well”.  I’ll admit, I never really been the epitome of health though I’ve gone through cycles of being more or less healthy over the years.  Thing is, I don’t eat vegetables.  I’m even allergic to some.  Others, I just don’t like.  I try (read: want but actually don’t) to eat those that I can because I know the more that I consume the better it will be for me.  I just don’t.  I’m really hoping that juicing will be a better, more efficient and consistent way to add a lot of veggies to my diet.

I’m somewhat of a “foodie”.  I like good food and enjoy appreciating the finer culinary arts.  Ultimately, I don’t want to give up food.  I can’t see myself becoming a “food is a fuel only” type person.  I do think I can be more selective; have more moderation.  I can learn to consume less of the “finer foods” and appreciate all the more when I do.

I’ve been “moving well” lately by adding a more structured exercise routine to my life.  I’ve been “thinking well” by focising on my overall outlook, relationships, and working to become a more integrated mane with more of an “outside-in” perspective.  Now I need to “eat well”.  Am I going to become a vegan or vegetarian?  Probably not.  I don’t think that’s for me.  But I am hoping to significantly alter my eating habits.  My standards are going to go up.  I want to eat only the best of the best.  And probably significantly less of it.   I might lose weight while doing this.  I most likely will.  Though that's not my goal or reasoning for doing this.  I'm looking for long term changes along with immediate relief.  I'm looking to shock my system and out of that, create a more healthful lifestyle.

I want to enjoy life!  Where is it written that that translates to eating as much crap as you want?  If I am nearing the second half of my life, I want to make it count.

How about instead of being subject to my condition and just "dealing with it", I control my health and happiness?
"We are the facilitators of our own creative evolution." -- Bill Hicks

How about instead of resigning to the fact that I am reaching middle age and accepting that I just get fatter, slower, more tired, sicker, my body breaks down, I lose motivation, I'm just accepting of the way things are and what everyone else tells me they should be, I take my power back?

How about I (pardon the expression) get my balls back and decide I'm actually going to live?  To borrow from and paraphrase Stephen King, I AM going to make the choice to get busy living instead of getting busy dying!

That is my hope, my wish, my intention for embarking on this endeavor.  I am prepared that I could get a lot more out of.  I could not make it through.  We’ll see.  I plan on documenting my experiences to help hold myself accountable.  I guess we’ll see.  What better place than here?  What better time than now?

"Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." -- Pablo Picasso

My shiny new juicer with garden fresh fruits & veggies
You can track my (and the rest of the group's) progress as well as see what we're about here.  We're also on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

February 29, 2012

Meet George Jetson and his Iced Tea

I was always a big fan of the Jetsons as a kid.  I loved to see the new technology that they imagined.  It was always fun looking to the future and imagining what our life would be like.  Looking back, it's funny that it seems science fiction never really imagined the cell phone.

Technology always made the Jetsons lives better.  Arguably, perhaps "too better".  Since it is, of course, only a cartoon, everyone always looks happy and healthy.  The reality is that people of that world, or at least those in the US of that time, would probably be like those people floating in the chairs in Wall-E.

I'm a fan of technology that makes our lives better.  I know that there are some scary things about technology as well.  Facebook knows a great deal of personal information about us.  (Never mind that we willingly volunteered that information).  The big Google "boogey man" knows what city I live in and what web sites I might go to.  (I'm comforted by the fact that I'm not so interesting that anyone gives a rip about what I do).  Robots are being developed to mimic natural behavior, like the BigDog Beta.  SkyNet is a near reality, as evidenced by these freaky things that are completely autonomous.

But there are some technological that make our lives better.  The internet, for one.  Believing that it doesn't is like "guns kill people" and "credit cards get you into trouble".  It's people that make the bad decisions, and we always have.  (Of course, those with that belief are probably not online reading this anyway).  Cell phones have become an integral part of everyone's ensemble.  Yes, they can be a distraction but again, it's all in how you use it.  BluRay and HD TV makes us wonder how we did so long without them.  Watching 2001 on Blu-Ray and having the surround sound shake my windows during "Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite" is probably the closest I'll ever get to experiencing seeing that movie for the first time.  And, most especially, Single Cup Coffee Makers.  These things are amazing.  I have a Keurig  and there are many others like Tassimo and many of the major appliance makers have their versions of those.

I love the concept.  You simply place a single serve cup in the machine, push a button, and viola, hot coffee.  Just like on the Jetsons.  I like coffee, but I don't need a lot.  I drink a cup and it's usually on my way out the door.  I usually only drink a cup in a day.  My wife doesn't like coffee.  With the Keurig, we don't have to make a full pot.  Every morning it turns on automatically, I push a button, and we're in business.  My wife occasionally drinks a cup of tea and she doesn't have to boil whole pot.  Nor does she have to wait for water to boil since it brews in a couple of minutes.

This concept has now been taken to a whole new level.  It now goes to 11!  My single cup coffee maker now makes single serve sweet iced tea.  This is earth shattering for me.  I may only drink a cup of coffee in a day, but I drink a lot of iced tea.  Sweet tea, at that.  And I try to be pure about it by sweetening my tea with  all natural evaporated cane juice rather than artificial sweeteners.  I thought that I would be severely disappointed with the K-Cup sweet tea.  Surely it's high-fructose corn syrup, saccharin, or some other cancer-causing-terrible-for-you chemical.  It's bad enough I'm consuming all of that caffeine, I don't need to add to it.  To my elation, Celestial Seasonings Southern Sweet Perfect Iced Tea is sweetened with evaporated cane juice and stevia.

This truly is technology that makes our lives better.  Or, it makes mine better anyway.  Now, we're not quite to the level of Capt. Picard just stating "Earl Grey, hot!" and out slides a hot cuppa tea.  However, considering I can talk to my phone and tell it to get me "un-lost" or find a dry cleaners we can't be that far off.  And to you my new friend Celestial Seasonings Southern Sweet Perfect Iced Tea, I can only say "Eep Opp Ork Ah-ah"!

February 6, 2012

Dustin' Off the Bike

Now that I've concluded a rich food, beer, and laziness infused football watching season, I've started ramping up my cycling training.  By ramping up, I mean finally hitting it hard and heavy.  I've been in my routine of 5:30 AM spin class three times a week for a good while.  Now it's time to move from washing lettuce up to fries.  After all, I am training for a number of organized rides over the next few months leading up to the BP MS150.

This past weekend, I decided to dust off the bike and take it out on my first outdoor ride of the season.  Getting the bike out of the garage, I discovered that it's still in pretty good shape.  The tires inflate easily and seem to be holding air pretty well and don't have any bubbles or worn spots. Both wheels seem to be relatively true.  After lubing the chain, I discover the derailleurs are shifting with ease.  Other than the dust that covers the bike, everything seems to be in the same working order as when I last rode.  Which is outstanding since the last time I rode was much longer ago than I care to admit.

After a good cleaning, I put everything back together and it seems like everything is set to go.  It's then that I discover that my cycling computer has been wiped clean.  Damn.  Not only was I look forward to getting inspired by seeing that  my last ride was a good 80+ miles, knowing that was preceded the day before by a century.  I've had this as long as I've had the bike and I've loved the fact that I can see the odometer increasing year after year.  Now I'm starting over.  Oh well.  Time to gather the rest of my gear like my helmet, gloves, glasses, etc. and get out on the ride.

Several months ago, I had a "clean out and organize the garage" bender.  I purged a lot of junk.  I gathered up and organized the fishing gear, the camping gear, tools, and of course the cycling gear.  Knowing year after year I go through these episodes where I just can't seem to find what I'm looking for.  On my cleaning bender, I was determined not only to organize everything but also to have everything easily accessible and in obvious places.  Somewhere, something has gone wrong.  It was much more difficult and took way too long to find my stuff.  The same stuff I knew I would need and account for that when I organized it.  The same stuff I have trouble finding every year.  This wasn't doing anything for reducing my stress and frustration.

After let's call it "aggressive" rearranging of items in the garage and finally finding everything I was going to need on my  ride.  After winning the debate with my inner apathetic negotiator and not allowing myself to be talked out of my ride, I was finally ready to go.  So off I went, heading down to the Veloway near my house.  The Veloway is a 3 mile, paved looped that is only accessible to roller-bladers and cyclists.

I got the bike together.  Got all geared up.  I then decided I would take quick spin down the road before getting on the Veloway.  I knew that either something was going to need adjustment or, more likely, after being off the bike for so long I would do something to embarrass myself.  I thought it better that either, or both, of these things happen away from the masses of serious and semi-serious riders.As I'm cruising down the road, I realized two things: 1) I seriously underestimated how much I missed being on the bike.  It felt really great to finally be riding again.  2) I seriously underestimated the wind chill.  Despite the fact that the Veloway is less than 5 miles from my house, there was a noticeable difference between my shorts and short-sleeved jersey being adequate at the house and on the bike, not so much.

After some gritting of the teeth, I screwed my courage to the sticking post and headed off.  As this was my first actual ride of the season I wasn't sure how far I would be able to ride, what sort of average speed I'd be able to maintain, and just how far out of shape I was.  In the end, it was a fantastic ride.  My distance was in between my lofty, high-end goal and my minimally-acceptable-if-I-can't-ride-this-far-at-this-point-I've-got-problems distance.  I was able to maintain the average speed I had targeted, which means I might be able to increase it.  And, much to my surprise, I learned that after all the food, beer, and couch surfing, I wasn't in as bad of shape as I thought.  So, I've got that going for me.  Onwards and upwards!

Post Ride!